I am one of those super organized travelers who plans out the entire itinerary in advance, googles all the local attractions (and their historical significance), and has a daily schedule that maximizes the 18 waking hours we have everyday. So when my friends asked me, at the last minute, if I wanted to join them for a trip to the Canary Islands, I surprised myself by saying "yes". I said "yes" mostly because I knew it wouldn't be easy to find a travel companion for another trip to this island chain off the cost of Africa. Plus, it's living the island life for 1.5 weeks...why not?
Islas Canarias, as it is known in Spanish, consists of 7 major islands. We were on the second largest island called Fuerteventura for a yoga retreat. The retreat was absolutely wonderful with daily beach yoga, homemade meals, massages and just pure relaxation. And we met some of the kindest, warmest people who traveled to or moved there from around the globe. Saving that for another post. Fuerteventura's landscape is mostly very dry, covered with volcanic materials, except this one part of the island where you will find its famous sand dunes and its endless white sand beaches.
Parque Natural Dunas de Corralejo (Nature Park of the Dunes of Corralejo)
Preservation The sand dunes at one point were at risk of being spoiled by hotel developments. The local government recognized the significance of the dunes to the environment, to the culture, and to the tourism industry, so a national park was established to preserve the area, so that everyone would get to enjoy this natural wonder for generations to come.
A White Sand Desert We step out of our parked car. We try to look toward the end of the beach where it would meet the ocean, but we can't see the water at all. The white sand beach is miles and miles deep. At one point, I stop and look around - I feel like I am in the middle of a desert where all I can see is white sand in all 4 directions.
Watching a Light Show There was also a nature light show, too, as the moving clouds continuously shift the sunlight across the sand, making it seems darker at times and brighter in certain spots.
Nature's Painting When the ocean finally emerges, the view is just spectacular. The water is a true turquoise color, pinned against a blue sky and white sand. It's perfect harmony of colors that just brings a smile to your face.
Just Us & The Dunes The sand dunes cover such a large area that you can come across parts of the beach that still seems unspoiled by human traffic. The sand in this particular spot is so fine and so pure that it feels like walking with a pair of soft fluffy slippers.
Mutual Respect The most amazing thing is how unspoiled this natural wonder is. At times, we were the only 3 people within a few miles radius. There is also a mutual respect by the locals and visitors alike to keep this beauty as clean as possible. I don't recall seeing any trash at any part of the sand dune.
Some Travel Tips
Getting Here I will use Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real (aka, "The Bahia") as a starting point because you'll find it on the map and it's considered a major landmark among the locals. From there, head south on Av. Corralejo Grandes Playas toward FV-1 (this is a major highway). Continue on FV-1 until you start seeing sandy beaches or sand dunes on both sides of the road.
Keep Driving Pass the Crowd Most people stop at the first sight of the sandy area. Don't get me wrong - We did just that and the area was lovely, but it was very crowded and the sand seemed a bit dirty from all the traffic. I recommend that you continue driving down FV-1 to get to the more remote part of the sand dunes. I'd say it's about 1.5 - 2.0km from the first sand dunes sighting. Visually, you'll notice less and less cars parked on the side of the highway. And, yes, your parking spaces are simply each side of the road. Because we came from the north, we parked on the opposite side and had to across the highway - Please be careful as cars are going at full speed since it is a highway.
Bring On The Sun Protection Sand reflects about 15% of UV radiation, according to the World Health Organization, in addition to the UV levels you are already exposed to by being in the sun. And since the sand dunes is an open area with just sand, extra sun protection is essential. Must-haves for you are sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, and some moisten wipes. And don't forget to reapply that sunscreen.
FROM THE CANARY ISLANDS SERIES